Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in children is constantly covered in the media. Popular treatments range from diet to medication. Parents often take the lead when children are growing up, forgetting that symptoms persist into adolescence and adulthood. The transition to adulthood can be difficult in normal circumstances, but adding ADHD to the mix can lead to setbacks, self-blame, and feelings of failure. Adults with ADHD are more likely to have mental illness, experience divorce, and struggle with addiction. ADHD can also impact relationships, jobs, sexuality, and self-esteem.
What is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)?
When talking about ADHD, many people envision boys with boundless energy or kids that don’t pay attention in class. However, this diagnosis is often misunderstood and symptoms are not as noticeable. While the main symptoms are attention difficulty and hyperactivity in children, these manifest themselves differently as children progress into adolescence and adulthood.
Persons with ADHD are often thought to be defiant, rebellious, or a trouble maker. They grow up being told that they don’t meet their potential and need to work harder. Nothing could be further from the truth; instead they have the ability to pay attention when it’s interesting and/or stimulating. However, later on when information or tasks are dull or uninteresting it becomes extremely difficult to maintain their focus. In reality, ADHD impacts a person’s ability to control their attention. This leads to times when they can’t pay attention when they want to and at other times they can’t stop paying attention to things when they know they have other obligations.
Hyperactivity shows itself as wild and energetic behavior in children, but in adolescence and adulthood people have an internal feeling of restlessness. They fidget and bounce their legs to maintain attention and keep social norms and not running around the room. This can make others feel they are uncomfortable, nervous, or anxious. In reality, most of the things that make others uncomfortable are actually helping the individual to resist hyperactive urges.
In addition to these symptoms, persons with ADHD also may struggle with paying attention to details, misplacing items, time management, interrupting others in conversation, and difficulty completing tasks. These symptoms are often mistaken for laziness, incompetence, or lack of caring.
“The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.”
RALPH WALDO EMERSON
What to expect in treatment?
Most often those with ADHD come in for other difficulties such as depression, anxiety, relationship issues, etc. Therefore ADHD treatment is more about adapting other treatments to accommodate specific experiences of the individual.
Therefore, treatment for ADHD begins with understanding your specific symptoms and learning what you are already doing to cope. Therapy will emphasize organizational techniques, information about medication usage, and healing damage caused from years of thinking of one’s self as broken or not meeting your potential. This is critical to understanding how to intervene in other mental health and relationship issues.
Addressing other issues through a lens of ADHD involves looking at the world according to one’s own capabilities to work differently and maximize the gifts that are given to each of us. ADHD is often associated with many positive attributes such as creative problem solving, innovative thinking, and excellent performance under pressure. Learning to harness your mind in a way that is compatible with how your mind works can change the trajectory of your life and can give you hope and confidence.